It is with great sadness that CEP announces the passing away of Mr. Nico van Zelst, one of the founders of CEP, on 14th December 2021 at the age of 92.
Nico was closely involved in the setting up of CEP 40 years ago (in 1981) and it was thanks to his enthusiasm and hard work that CEP was able to grow into the large and Europe-wide probation organisation that it is now.
“More than forty years ago, we started working to set up the European Probation Service“, were Nico’s words in his written speech during the CEP 40 years anniversary conference in Paris in November 2021, where he unfortunately could not be present. “In 1979, when I was serving as the director of the Dutch probation service, we discovered that there were 500 Dutch inmates abroad. And so I created a special group to help our citizens in foreign prisons. After that, I discovered that there were a few thousand foreign nationals in Dutch prisons. And that was the sign to create European cooperation. We officially started this European Conference for Probation and Aftercare in the Abbaye de Royaumont near Paris, in 1981.”
In 1989, Nico retired from the Dutch Probation Service, and the Queen of the Netherlands gave him a high decoration for all the work he had done. Also he was nominated by the Queen to serve as a judge and magistrate in the Netherlands.
Nico fell ill shortly before the CEP anniversary conference at the Abbey du Royaumont – an event that he had so much been looking forward to. The speech that he had prepared has been spoken out by CEP Secretary General Willem van der Brugge during the official dinner.
CEP will always remember Nico van Zelst with pride and gratefulness.